Definition of Compassion

One of the difficulties about compassion can be that there are many different definitions and ways of understanding it. For example, some people describe compassion as a feeling or emotion, or say that it’s the same as empathy.

In CFT, we have a very clear definition of what compassion is:

                     a sensitivity to the suffering of self and others, with a commitment to relive and prevent it

It can sometimes be helpful to have a printed version of this (see here, and below) as we can use this to discuss with people engage in CFT about how this definition holds two different psychologies of compassion

  1. Engagement with distress and suffering. This involves qualities that allow us to notice, engage with, tolerate and understand suffering and distress, whether that’s in ourselves or someone else
  2. Taking wise action with distress and suffering. This part of compassion involves learning how to work with distress – whether our own or someone else’s – in wise ways 

If you’re interested in learning more about compassion, and self-compassion in particular, can help you, check our our compassion self-help and resources

And if you’d like to find out more about how the two parts to compassion each contain 6 different competencies or skills, then click here for the compassion circles

Definition of Compassion - Two Psychologies

These handouts have all been adapted from the wonderful work of Paul Gilbert – find out more at www.compassiontemind.co.uk